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Cannabist medical cannabis dispensary opens on Don Knotts Boulevard

MORGANTOWN — The city’s third medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors Friday morning: Cannabist is on Don Knotts Boulevard, next to the former Aldi store.

Members of the Morgantown Area Partnership joined with staff for a ribbon-cutting in the cold, wet wind. The first customers waited in line.

Before the ribbon-cutting, store General Manager Tricia Hill and West Virginia Regional Manager Keri Stan were prepping for the grand-opening.

This is Cannabist’s fourth West Virginia dispensary, Stan said. The others are in Beckley, St. Albans and Williamstown. Their growing and processing operation is in Falling Waters, outside Martinsburg.

The shop currently offers dried flower and pre-filled cartridges for vaporization, Stan said. The processor is working on tinctures and tablets. “Our goal is anything that we legally can sell in West Virginia, we will produce and have available.”

As with other dispensaries, you can’t just walk in and browse. The guard at the front door will only admit you if you present a state-issued medical cannabis card. You’ll also need a state-issued photo ID.

As you step in, you’ll see a big, neon script slogan attached to the reception room wall: A Higher Experience. A play on getting high, it actually summarizes the company’s Three Pillars: Higher Standards, Higher Knowledge, Higher Calling.

You check in at the reception desk and then you’ll be admitted through another locked door into the sales room. This room is a gleaming affair that looks more like a jewelry store, with lighted display cases and a long sales counter.

Two giant computer monitors on the back wall allow access to Cannabist’s interactive Forage program that helps a customer navigate through various questions to determine what product they might need.

Staff are also trained to help, Stan said. “We do a lot of consultation in our line of work, especially with new patients — patients who are new to cannabis.”

The shop has six full-time staff now and they hope to hire more as business picks up, she said.

A question Stan likes to be asked, she said, is “What are we going to do for the communities that we’re in?” They try to have a positive impact and enhance their communities.

The Morgantown shop, Hill said, is working to help revive a veterans’ group. And they have humane society “tip jars” to collect donations for that organization.

Anna Carrier, vice president of chamber services for Morgantown Area Partnership, remarked on the opening of the city’s third dispensary.

“I think it’s a reflection of Morgantown and the state as a whole that we are capitalizing on this industry,” she said. “It’s helpful to those who are in need of it. It’s provided a new source of income for our state, which is always welcome.”

Cannabist is a retail dispensary brand of the New York-based medical cannabis company Columbia Care. Launched in May 2021, Cannabist has 84 dispensaries in 11 states. Columbia Care operates in 18 U.S. jurisdictions and in the European Union. It has 99 dispensaries and 32 cultivation and manufacturing facilities.

Earlier this month, Chicago-based cannabis operator Cresco Labs announced the purchase of Columbia Care. Their combined footprint will cover 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The other two Morgantown dispensaries are Florida-based Trulieve, which opened in Sabraton in November, and Zen Leaf, owned by Chicago-based Verano Holdings, which opened March 18 on Venture Drive, just above IHOP.

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp